Posts, shares, mentions, hashtags, retweets, likes… these types of digital social interactions are abundant. With all of the social media outlets out there, the amount of content generated daily can be daunting, especially to a business just starting to engage in the social sphere. Fortunately, a number of services have been developed to aggregate, report, and provide insight into what people are saying, and how audiences can be better targeted. This article takes a look at social media management software and how it can be used by marketers to reap the benefits of “going social”.
Social media is here to stay
In the connected world we live in, social media adoption is showing no signs of decline. Its prevalence has brought new norms to everyday societal interactions. Event planning, customer service, product promotion, consumer feedback, project collaboration, and countless other types of interactions have been greatly enhanced – some might say redefined – by the power of social media.
Companies, organizations, and even government institutions are using social media to seek input and deliver new levels of service to their followers. Online conversation with ‘actual’ users brings a new level of honesty and transparency to the Internet. The days of anonymous forum and blog posters are in decline. The old method of surveys and focus groups can’t compare to the immediacy of social networking. Additionally, the breadth of analytics available, compared to traditional advertising, makes social engagement a no-brainer.
Finding meaning behind data
The amount of data collected from social media activity can quickly become massive. As with most data collection, though, there’s no use having data if it’s not analyzed, correlated, and acted upon. “Reach” is one of the KPIs social marketers use to set and accomplish goals. It is the number of unique logged-in users served one or more impressions of a message. (Logged-in means they are verified users of the service; they aren’t just bots or anonymous users.) When posts are shared organically (i.e. friends sharing with other friends), reach is multiplied. And, what every social media curator hopes to achieve – virality – occurs when reach grows exponentially and rapidly.
How is all of this data collected and acted upon? Rarely does it come down to a manual process of reading and analyzing every single interaction with followers. There are automated systems that tap into APIs (i.e. data pulls) provided by social media sites and aggregate relevant interactions onto dashboards. They are often referred to as social media management software (SMMS). Using an automated approach, companies can, for example, instantly check the total reach of their posts across all of their social media platforms collectively.
SMMS can be used to monitor inbound and outbound conversations, facilitate and prioritize customer interactions, plan and document social marketing campaigns, and evaluate the overall effectiveness of a social media efforts. Additionally, some services come paired with content publishers; these allow marketers to draft messages, schedule automatic post times, target audiences in different regions, languages, and demographics, and assign tasks to coworkers.
With a good understanding of a brand’s audience, visibility can be increased by promoting messages. Usually called promoted posts, they are highly targeted ads based on predefined conditions. Although there are fees associated with them, there is reassurance knowing that the users being hit are, in a sense, qualified leads. They are interested in the brand and are potentially ready to make use of the brand’s products or services.
Be pensive while posting
Although automation tools can lessen the workload involved in maintaining social media accounts, too much automation can make things seem scripted and insincere. Here are some tips to avoid “death by automation”:
Make sure manual sentiment analysis is part of day-to-day upkeep. By definition, social media is supposed to be social, with real people behind each of the messages.
Make sure posts are tailored to each platform, as people can follow companies on multiple sites (e.g. Facebook and Twitter). If content is duplicated across all platforms, followers could end up seeing the same thing again and again. This will cause annoyance and possibly drive people to unsubscribe.
Don’t over-schedule social media channels. Too much content can become tiring for the user.
Be in real time when possible. When big industry news hits, jump on it! Followers will attract to it. (This will also avoid suspicions users have that everything is automated.)
There is a plethora of social media white papers, best practices, trends, and the like available for free around the Internet. A good source for B2B and B2C social marketing is the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud website (part of SalesForce). Check it out under the “Best Practices” tab at http://bit.ly/1pahPv6.